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Africa and the import of COVID-19

The African continent so far had largely been spared of the spread of COVID-19, which originated from Wuhan, China early December 2019, and has infected more than half a million people causing over 41,000 deaths worldwide.

Although unlike European and American counterparts, the total lockdown of infected areas, rapid testing, and quarantine centers have been created to limit transmission of the virus. But one major concern of this outbreak is the ability of African countries to handle the spread of this virus, due to its weak health care systems.

Egypt was the first African country to confirm a COVID-19 caused death, while Nigeria became the first sub-Saharan country to confirm a COVID-19 case. In a statement made by the head of the World Health Organization’s Africa region, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti was quick to point out that most of the confirmed cases in Africa have been imported from Europe.

In this article, we’ll be discussing countries giving Africa the novel COVID-19 as most of Africa’s reported cases were mostly foreigners or people who recently arrived from an infected country abroad.

Countries Infecting Africa


The second country with the highest rate of infected people in the world is Italy. And the first case of an Italian citizen with COVID-19 infection was in Algeria when an Italian adult arrived in the country early February. Nigeria’s first confirmed COVID-19 case was of an Italian citizen who arrived in Lagos from Milan via Istanbul on February 25. Also, a Cameroonian news outlet revealed that dozens of Italians arriving in Cameroon fled Italy in a quest to escape their infected country. Cases of Italians carrying the virus to other countries in Africa such as the Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, and Senegal have also been reported.

The United Kingdom

While the Coronavirus infection has been less critical in the United Kingdom, nevertheless many infected people have been confirmed positive after traveling back to Africa causing the outbreak of some African countries. In early March, the Kenyan Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe confirmed the case of a 27-year-old who was diagnosed after she traveled home via London.


We’ve seen the spread of the Coronavirus on Africa by French citizens, starting with Sierra Leone, where a 37-year-old man who had arrived from France was found to be positive after being in quarantine. Also in Nigeria, four Nigerians who returned home during the beginning of the pandemic in Europe were found to be carrying the coronavirus, in which two of the citizens arrived from France. 


Although China might have been the epicenter of the virus, it’s rather the least source of the Coronavirus in Africa, and this can be traced to the large populace of Chinese workers working in Africa who after leaving mainland China for the Lunar New Year in 2019 returned to African countries. It is estimated that over 200,000 Chinese people live and work in African countries with most of them coming through the Addis Ababa international airport in Ethiopia. It is also estimated that about 1500 Chinese travel every day from mainland China to African countries via Ethiopian airlines. And even after the rise of the COVID-19 infection cases in Wuhan, Hubei province in China, Ethiopian airlines continued operating it’s China routes and carried workers and officials who might have been infected into Africa, while other international airlines suspended flights to China.

Here’s a neat little graphic that simulates the transfer of the virus globally



The rate at which COVID-19 is multiplying exponentially in Africa is gradually increasing, but experts believe with the adoption of quarantine methods, lockdown, increase in test centers, and the closures of all borders to travels to and from the largely infected countries mentioned, Africa might be able to stop the spread of the pandemic.

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